After over a year and a half of near constant closures, restrictions, and other setbacks, New York City restaurants finally had a reason to celebrate this past week. NYC Restaurant Week has returned to the City, this time lasting for over a month (July 19th to August 22nd) to accommodate for the business lost during the pandemic.
Since its inaugural year back in 1992, Restaurant Week has grown into a tradition for locals, students, and other New Yorkers excited by the prospect of a quick, cheap, delicious meal.
Organized by the Mayor’s Office and hundreds of partnering restaurants, the celebration offers special $21, $39, and $125 menus that allow guests to sample new foods at a reasonable price.
“It’s extraordinary, the greatest restaurants in the world — an opportunity for you and me to go out there and experience them… even if you don’t have a lot of money, great, great, deals,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the start of Restaurant Week last month. “We know the restaurant community went through so much during the pandemic, but people fought back. The restaurant owners, the employees, they fought back, they kept their businesses going, and now Restaurant Week is going to give them more customers, and a whole lot more energy.”
A total of 511 restaurants are featured throughout the five boroughs during Restaurant Week. However, only 47 of those are in Brooklyn. Queens has even less, with only 33 eateries featured throughout the month.
Our paper caught up with the owner of one of these lucky restaurants to discuss their experience.
“It [Restaurant Week] has turbo-charged everything,” explained Bart Hubbuch, owner of Prospect Heights Korean BBQ fusion joint Memphis Seoul (569 Lincoln Place). “It has been unbelievably, mind-bogglingly successful.”
Hubbuch continued: “I am from Texas originally, but I am so honored to feel at home here in New York. It’s a prestigious thing to be honored in Restaurant Week.”
Multiple North Brooklyn favorites are also featured this restaurant week, including Domino Park Taqueria Tacocina (25 River Street), Williamsburg Mexican Restaurant De Mole (2 Hope Street), and the original Junior’s Cheesecake location in Downtown Brooklyn (386 Flatbush Ave).
Sean McCloskey, General Manager at De Mole, praised the City for making Restaurant Week even more accessible this year.
“The nice feature this time with restaurant week is NYC & COMPANY has decided to waive the normal fee that is associated with participation in Restaurant Week,” McCloskey explained. “Doing so has allowed the small mom & pop restaurants to participate, where in prior years they wouldn’t due to the fee.”
He continued: “Restaurant Week has played a major role in bringing people to the restaurants after the pandemic, as the pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the restaurant & hospitality industry in NYC. This year one of the nicer features that NYC & COMPANY has added is the signa Menu, which has been a draw for our customers, hopefully it is something they will consider offering from here on.”
In addition to in-person dining, many featured restaurants are offering take-out options this restaurant week to accommodate those who are still wary of large crowds.